Throughout art history, the female nude has been a recurring subject, most often created from the perspective of a male artist and rarely subverted, though several notable figures—Lotte Laserstein, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Kogelnik—have been pioneering soldiers in shifting this patriarchal norm.
Best described in Laura Mulvey’s 1975 essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, “The determining male gaze projects its [fantasy] on to the female form, which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role, women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness.”
In a new group art show at Tribeca’s Untitled Space, “In The Raw: The Female Gaze on the Nude,” 20 female artists have been assembled to offer their intimate interpretations of the classic nude. Open from May 4 – 21, the exhibition will feature a dynamic range of mediums, from photography to painting, sculpture to mixed media and video. Curators Indira Cesarine and Coco Dolle recruited a lineup to tackle the prompt from a personal perspective—names like Amanda Charchian, Aneta Bartos, Annika Connor, Coco Dolle, Elisa Garcia de la Huerta and Ellen Jong—who’ve imbued the female nude with everything from the whimsical to the erotic.
“This exhibit presents the work of 20 very different female artists, each with their own visual aesthetic,” Cesarine mused. “It is extremely powerful to see a collection of multi-generational work by women on the subject of The Female Gaze. The nudes in the exhibit touch on what many would consider taboo subjects of female rites of passage, sexuality, fear and fantasy. One might ask, ‘Are nudes of women by women really any different than those by men?’ When viewing the work of these artists it is clear that not only do women have a very different voice and treatment of the nude, but also are breaking boundaries with work that often reveals details only a women can understand intimately.”